End the duopoly

Trump Just Gave a Giant Middle Finger to Student Borrowers Everywhere

One striking phenomenon of the Trump era is the way the president’s daily bombast and Twitter furies can overshadow the ways his administration is screwing people over.

Last Friday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced that it had finally appointed a new student-loan ombudsman. Mandated by law, the ombudsman acts as a point person for borrowers fighting with their private lenders; the job also involves crunching student-loan data to advise the head of the CFPB, the Treasury Secretary, and Congress on how to improve the often hellish, hall-of-mirrors-style experience of taking on student loans.

The last student-loan ombudsman, an Obama-era holdover named Seth Frotman, resigned last year in a bureaucratic blaze of glory, saying the Bureau had “turned its back” on borrowers and servicemembers. After nearly a year of searching, Kathy Kraninger, the Trump administration’s choice to run the CFPB, unveiled perhaps the most Trumpian pick possible to replace Frotman.

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The new student-loan ombudsman is Robert Cameron, who comes to the bureau from a scandal-plagued loan servicer named the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, better known as PHEAA. Which is to say, he joins the bureau from a perch high up in the very industry he is now supposedly going to oversee and help regulate.

Frotman, the previous ombudsman, blasted the CFPB’s decision to appoint Cameron. “It is outrageous that an executive from the student loan company that has cheated students and taxpayers, and is at the center of every major industry scandal over the past decade, is now in charge of protecting borrowers rights,” he said in a statement. “This is an insult to the nation’s 45 million borrowers who deserve an advocate in their corner.”

The CFPB did not respond to a request for comment.  […]

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